Friday, May 22, 2015

Epitaph (a book review post)

When I was a kid, before I discovered dinosaurs (which I did at the age of four), the very first thing I wanted to be was a cowboy. My grandfather had cows on his farm, so I figured that made him a cowboy, and that's what I wanted to be. Imagine my surprise when I got to my American history class in high school and learned that the term "cowboy" became popularized and associated with the west because of a band of rustlers operating in Arizona in the 1880s know as the Cow Boys. Yeah, you heard me; the Cow Boys were the bad guys.

Interestingly enough, it was these same Cow Boys who would create the enduring legacy of Wyatt Earp and, by extension, Doc Holliday. Wyatt Earp, who was possibly the ultimate frontier lawman... right up until he wasn't.

Of course, there are those who would argue that he was never a lawman, just an outlaw posing as one, but, mostly, those are the outlaws who accused him of that. Or men like Johnny Behan, and we know Behan was crooked, so it makes his accusations a little less believable.

At any rate, Epitaph is not really a book about Wyatt Earp. Which is not to say that it's not a book about Wyatt Earp, because it is. Mostly, though, it's about the conditions that lead up the shootout that was not actually at the O.K. Corral and the fallout after it. The enduring legacy it created.

The temptation, here, is to get into the history of it, but that's in the book. To say that Mary Doria Russell is a meticulous researcher is probably an understatement. We'll say instead that I trust her research. And, sure, I'm biased and, sure, this is historical fiction, but I believe the facts are mostly in place and the suppositions logically follow from the facts.

That said, it's Russell's ability to allow the reader to walk along with her characters that is her greatest asset. And that's where her research really shows, I think. She writes as if she knows these people, as if she spent time with them, as witnessed these things herself. It creates a completely believable world.

Basically, I can't recommend this book or Russell more highly. And, although this is a companion piece to Doc, Doc is not required reading; Epitaph is not a sequel.

Whether you think Wyatt Earp walked with the angels or the demons (and it's not unreasonable to suspect either considering that he was never shot; even when his clothes ended up full of bullet holes, he never received a wound), this book is worth reading for the insight on the situation. The incident "at" the O.K. Corral formed a view of the Old West that has never been shaken, one of showdowns and street fights that never really existed. And maybe that's okay, because it's the legends we look up to and aspire to be. Parts of me still want to be a cowboy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do You Know the Code?

Briane Pagel has a new book out. He says it's the best book he's ever written and, seeing that I have quite liked his other books (except for that pineapple thing), at least the ones I've read, I'm really hoping for good things from this one. I've already picked it up but, with the end of the school year and everything going on with my kids, I haven't had a chance to start reading it. I'll let you know what I think as soon as I do, though.

Until then, here's Briane to talk about Codes!

Wherein I Hate Stuff For No Reason (a guest post by Briane Pagel)

I know this is the space Andrew has lately been reserving for his discussion of how to handle, or not handle, a bad (or, as it was, not-really-so-bad) review, and I think that’s important work. Someone has to stand up to bullies, and Andrew has a good platform from which to do so. That’s why I am extra-appreciative of his willingness to lend me his Wednesday slot in order to let me provide some thinly-veiled marketing in the guise of a LISTICLE!

P.S. WHY does everything on the internet have such a stupid name? Years into it, I still cannot bring myself to say that I tweeted something. I tell people “Oh yeah I posted a link to that on Twitter.” “Blog,” “Tweet,” “listicle,” etc. etc. It’s so degrading. I feel stupid whenever I talk about anything I do on the internet. People will say Are you going to try to publicize your book and I have to say Yes, I plan to… *sigh*… blog… about it.

Where was I? Oh, right: Listicle. People love lists! That was one of the things mentioned in an article I read entitled, “These 5 Amazing Things People Love About The Internet Will Change Your Life.” (Other things included cats and lists about cats.) So I’ve been making the rounds, promoting my new book, Codes, and it just made sense. What better way to discuss a near-future book about a corporation trying to perfect the process of human cloning by implanting computer-programmed personalities into them and marketing the result than to create a superficial list designed to generate fake controversy?

Did that sentence make any sense? It’s been a long day and I got lost in some of the clauses there.

Knowing that Andrew usually uses this space to discuss people’s reactions to bad reviews, I decided that the theme for my latest list would at least tangentially relate to that topic, and so I came up with the idea of reviewing shows and books I’ve never even seen, and, of course, panning them.

If you’re like me (and I pray you’re not. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT) then there are LOTS and LOTS of things you HATE, almost-sight-unseen. I am a champion at hating stuff before I know anything about it. I can dislike something practically before I know it exists. It’s a talent. Books, movies, TV shows, songs, certain shades of green… doesn’t matter what it is, I can hate it right up front. And, more than just hate quietly, I can -- based on that completely uninformed opinion review the bejeebers out of that thing I hate. YES! FREE SPEECH! ‘MERICA! Let’s get to it!

1. The Walking Dead: I have never seen this show, or even a preview for it. That has not stopped me from hating it so much that I have started disliking other shows if a commercial for TWD airs during them. Can we NOT have any more allegories about our society told through the zombie format? This thing is all over! I can’t go onto a web page without seeing some picture of a sweaty guy or girl holding a machete and looking fierce next to a headline about how TWD is really going to amazeballs you with the storyline this week. LET ME GUESS: They nearly get overrun by zombies but then hack their way out! Also, where is everyone getting these machetes in the first place? I am 46 years old and I have never seen a machete in real life. Do the zombies bring them? Do they sell them at the True Value ™ Hardware Store? In real life, a zombie apocalypse would feature 100% fewer machetes and 100% more “Dads holding a bed lamp they grabbed off the table.”

2. The New Star Trek Movies: This automatic-dislike probably began when they cast Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in the first “new” Star Trek movie. Looking at Chris Pine gives me the same feeling I get when I grind my teeth, only less pleasant. That was bad enough. But then I heard that in one of these movies they had Kirk driving around in a hot rod on Earth. You know what space operas don’t need? Drag races on planet Earth. But to top it off, they remade “The Wrath Of Khan.” YOU CANNOT REMAKE THE WRATH OF KHAN. That is like remaking a rainbow. Like remaking a glorious, rage-filled, fist-shaking, Enterprise-attacking, earwig-monster-injecting, desert-planet-inhabiting, Fantasy-Island-operating rainbow.

3. The Hunger Games. OH. MY. GOD. From the moment I first heard of this series of books I thought they sounded like the dumbest thing ever. Here is my understanding of the plot: some government starves all its citizens, so that they will send a bunch of kids to shoot each other with arrows in order to get a little bit of extra food. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? How would that system work? It could never! But then after all the kids shoot each other or whatever, the two (?) winners (?) get elected to the government or something, like Charlie winning the chocolate factory only Jennifer Lawrence didn’t even have to give back the gobstopper? NO DO NOT BOTHER EXPLAINING WHERE I GOT IT WRONG. The plot doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to, because it’s a book for teenagers, and teenagers love it when things don’t make sense. It lets them be convinced that adults don’t ‘understand’ them. That’s why I loved The Cure when I was seventeen, and why kids nowadays love The Hunger Games and its sequels, New Moon and whatever the third one was with Percy Jackson.

3a.Bonus hatred: I cannot stand Jennifer Lawrence. Not even a little bit. She is somehow the female version of that guy in 8th grade who thought smelling farts was funny. Associating her with a movie makes me that much less likely to see it. If “J-Law” showed up on my doorstep with a giant pizza and a bootleg director’s cut of the next Star Wars movie, I wouldn’t even answer the door.

Let’s do one more. This is fun! How about:

4. Anything by Isaac Asimov. To be honest, I am not sure where this one comes from because I do not know really anything about Asimov other than I dislike him and everything I imagine he stands for. I know as a scifi-ish writer myself I am supposed to apparently love Isaac Asimov and everyone’s always talking about how he predicted the future and his laws of robotics and etc blah blah blah, but I can’t be bothered. I’m not even sure what Asimov is supposed to have written. Foundation, I think? I’d go look it up but I’d rather my browser not have a history of searching for Asimov stuff. Even I am cooler than that. I think Asimov wrote that story that got made into I, Robot, starring Will Smith, and can we as a society really take an author seriously anymore if Will Smith likes his stuff? I’m also pretty sure that in reality there’d be no way robots could be programmed not to harm humans, which I think was a ‘law’ of robotics Asimov pulled out of thin air and made people believe was a thing. It’s so dumb: suppose I was being held hostage by Chris Pine and Jennifer Lawrence and the only way I’m getting out alive is if C-3PO (do NOT get me started on R2-D2!) snipes them both with a laser rifle from across the road. OH WAIT there’s a LAW that he can’t kill them, only if he DOESN’T, then he’s harming a human by letting me die, right? That is NOT how laws work, Isaac Asimov. You don’t see gravity only holding people down if it’s nonparadoxical.

In closing, you’ll note that the only people I picked on in here are people who are dead, or who don’t matter, or who are Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pine and so deserve it. I don’t have to worry about anyone overreacting or calling me crazy or taking me to task for these entirely unfounded and ill-informed, and yet still 100% correct, opinions. Don’t forget to mention in the comments how much you agree with me!


Something I don’t hate: My book, Codes: Robbie had an ordinary life, until she walked into Gravity Sling. Now he’s seeing coded messages everywhere, being chased by shadowy big-corporation goons, and questioning literally everything about the world as he knows it. Some questions need answers. This Phillip K. Dick style debut science fiction novel raises questions about how people use technology and each other.

Links:
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrianePagel
My blog: Thinking The Lions: http://www.thinkingthelions.com

Buy Codes on
Golden Fleece Press’ site: http://goldenfleecepress.com/catalog/fiction/


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Weekly (Pat) Report #2: The Finale

As often happens with these kinds of things, they just sort of fade away. At least to all outward appearances. After a huge explosion after last Wednesday's post (and it was epic, let me tell you), Pat offered a truce, which covers fixing the things he did but not the things his sister did. As it turns out, his sister is willing to offer her brother up as a sacrifice for a vendetta that isn't hers just because it's fun to do mean things to people (that's a paraphrase of her actual words, not something I'm just saying). Pat, though, is doing his best to counteract what his sister has done, since she's unwilling to retract all of the fake ratings she threw at me.

And that's where it stands and where it will stand unless something else happens. I'm hoping that nothing else happens.

Because this is related, I recently (last week) started reading The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha; you probably know it better simply as Don Quixote, but I just love the full title. Now, just in case you don't know, this book is 400 years old and is one of the first examples of a novel in Western literature. Yet, in the prologue to the book, Cervantes felt compelled to write the following:
Idle reader, you need no oath of mine to convince you that I wish this book, the child of my brain, were the handsomest, the liveliest, and the wisest that could be conceived. ...if a father should happen to sire an ugly and ill-favored child, the love he bears it claps a bandage over his eyes and so blinds him to its faults that he reckons them as talents and graces and cites them to his friends as examples of wit and elegance. But I, who appear to be Don Quixote's father, am in reality his stepfather and do not intend to follow the usual custom, nor to beg you, almost with tears in my eyes, as others do, dearest reader, to pardon or dissemble the faults you may see in this child of mine. You are no kinsman or friend of his; ...all of which exempts and frees you from every respect and obligation. So you may say what you please about this story without fear of being backbitten for a bad opinion or rewarded for a good one.
So... There you go. 400 years ago, Cervantes was saying, "Review the thing however you want to. Be honest. You won't get a response from me one way or the other." Evidently, he was the exception in his time period, not the rule.

I suppose this is just an example of how people don't really change all that much. 400 years later, we're still struggling with the concept of allowing people to honestly receive our work.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Growing Up In the Race Divide (part 6a)

Wow! A new part! And a less serious part, just to give a bit of a break from all of the heaviness around here, lately.

In the summer of 1985, I went to a youth conference in Washington D.C. with my friend Bob (which I talked about some here, but that is a heavy post, so be aware before you click through). One thing I didn't mention in that other post is that we had to have a chaperon in order to be able to go since we were only 15. We were already hitching a ride with a group from Texas just to be able to go, but we had to provide our own chaperon, which was almost a sticking point for us, because we couldn't find anyone in our church willing to go with us even though the church was willing to foot the bill for the trip for the chaperon.

So I had to get ingenious. We'd been to summer camp a few weeks before the D.C. trip and had met a college guy there. He was between his freshman and sophomore years, too, just Texas A&M instead of high school. Jeff was one of those charismatic guys whom everyone loves right away, and he was also from Shreveport, so I gave him a call and asked him if he wanted to go on a free trip to Washington D.C.

Now, I want to make one thing really clear, here: We liked Jeff, but we didn't really know Jeff. But the church okay'd him to go with us as chaperon, anyway. Of course, I did a lot of convincing, both to get Jeff to go (Because I had to convince him to go on a FREE! trip to D.C.! What the heck?) and to get them to let him go.

Another thing: Jeff's family was rich. Not only was his family rich, but he was rich. When he was around 10 or 12, he'd written (put together) a book of Aggie jokes that had become a bestseller (I have a copy somewhere). The royalties had all gone into a trust fund that he had received when he turned 18, several hundred thousand dollars. He had a Camaro with a TV and VCR that came out of the glove compartment area and was really only good for the driver. Having been a passenger in that car, I can tell you that the TV was not viewable by anyone else. That car was the first thing he spent his joke book money on.

Of course, there's a lot more to all of this, but it's not the actual story. I just need you to know enough about Jeff so that you have an idea of what's going on.

And there was a girl. Because there's always a girl.

I don't remember exactly how we met the girl except that it had to do with a screw up with the hotel. The hotel we were supposed to stay in had overbooked and, since our little trio wasn't really apart of the group we were supposed to be with [And we were, actually, supposed to be with that group, which is probably part of why my church let Jeff go with us. You know, how much trouble could we possibly get into when we would be with this other youth group?], they peeled us off and sent us to a different hotel. A swanky hotel a block from the Capitol Building. You know, one of those hotels that puts mints on your pillows every morning after they came in and cleaned your room. In fact, we could look out our window and see the Capitol Building up at the end of the street.

That's where we met the girl. Probably during check in, because she was attached to us almost the entire trip. No, I don't know whom she was supposed to be with. No one ever came looking for her. She was, maybe, a year older than Bob and me. Bob had a big crush on her, and she had a big crush on Jeff. To his credit, Jeff wasn't interested.

Fun fact:
The hotel the rest of "our group" was supposed to stay in had a fire the morning after we arrived, and they got shuffled out to various budget motels on the outskirts of D.C. None of them were very happy with us when we'd run into them. They had to get up super early to get bused to the convention center, no one cleaned their rooms, and they didn't get mints. Not only did we get mints, but we were able to just catch the Metro to the convention center; it took no time at all. In fact, the longest part of the trip was waiting for the hotel elevator.

Speaking of elevators... Well, let's just say that what happens in elevators doesn't always stay in elevators. But you'll have to find out about that next week.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Name of the Wind (a book review post)

I'm going to start out by saying, "I get it." I get why people rave over this book. It's epic fantasy, and it feels so big. Oh, the incredible world building! And it's told in first person! How can you get better than that? First person epic fantasy!

But it's all a trick. Smoke and mirrors. A lie. Whatever you want to call it. The world building, in actuality, is almost non-existent. What we have are constant views of the insides of wagons and inns. Beyond that, the only thing we have any experience of is the university, and we don't get much of that. Rothfuss fakes it all by telling us this other stuff exists, but we never see it.

Look at Tolkien: He never just tells us a place exists. We come across it, experience it, discover it then, maybe, he tells us about it. Even Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkin take us to and show us the places in his world. Rothfuss just mentions places and lets us assume that his world is big, but he never really even shows us the University. Thinking about it, now, I am realizing how little he gave us about this incredibly "important" part of the book. We know there's a big, box of a building with a bunch of sprawling stuff that was poorly planned. It's like Hogwarts with all the confusion except that Hogwarts has a reason for that to be. Rothfuss just wants to evoke the same kind of thing without having a reason for it.

And, speaking of Hogwarts, can we be through, now, with the young, brilliant student thing for a while? Seriously, how many times are we going to do that? And with, pretty much, the exact same formula: gifted student arrives at magic school, gifted student immediately makes an enemy out of one of the professors, gifted student immediately creates a nemesis in one of the students, gifted student is constantly getting in trouble but comes out the better for it each time, gifted student is generally gifted at everything.

But I think I'm getting ahead of myself, because I was tired of the book way before Kvothe ever got the University.

The book opens as a third person tale. I was good with that. Really good with that. In fact, I am very not good with the seeming overwhelming desire of everyone to write everything in first person these days. So we take this fine, third person story and, just as it's starting, we switch to first person reflection on the protagonists life. And it is so contrived! I could just feel the author thinking, "How can I get Kvothe to tell his own story?" So, you know, he has a guy show up who wants to make a book out of his story and convinces him -- Kvothe, who is supposed to be in hiding and doesn't want anyone to know who he is -- with almost not effort to do that. The whole situation felt completely out of character for Kote, the persona that Kvothe is playing, and it actually felt out of character for Kvothe, especially as we learn more about him, because he never displays any interest in having people know "the truth" and is perfectly fine with them making up whatever they want to further his reputation.

Then, it got worse. One of the first things Kvothe does is explain to us how to say his name. This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen done in a book and was completely the author, for lack of a better way of putting it, showing off. Think about it. The guy he's talking to knows how to say his name. Even if he hadn't known who Kvothe was, all Kvothe needed to do was to say, "I'm Kvothe." See, there, he heard it. Only us out here in reading land didn't hear it, and Rothfuss, for whatever reason, wanted to make sure we knew the "correct" pronunciation, so he has Kvothe explain it to us.

Now, you might be saying, "But he was explaining for future readers of the story!" Except, well, Kvothe is already a legendary figure -- yes, even in his own time -- so everyone already knows how to say his name, because there are stories about him floating around everywhere. Suggesting that people in the future wouldn't know how to pronounce his name would be like suggesting that we should need Julius Caesar to explain to us how to say his name. Or, maybe, Kanye explaining... um, wait... But, still, the argument stands. I almost just put the book down, right then, when he started explaining his name.

And, then, he stopped to explain how magic works. Really? Why do that? There's no need for anyone to know except that the author wanted to show off how clever he is by explaining his magic system and how it works to the audience. In a world where magic is feared, no one would have stopped to explain that. It was gratuitous. And completely not clever since all it amounted to is that his magic system relies on the laws of conservation of matter and energy.

Except that didn't seem to apply to food, because the food, even in the dead of winter in the snow, seemed to always magically stay warm.

Yeah, right, whatever.

The worst bit, though, other than the name thing which was also the worst bit (and that's me making fun of Rothfuss saying about two different things about a page apart "it was the most beautiful thing I'd seen in three years") was the part where Kvothe suddenly takes off to go investigate a Chandrian rumor. This may be the most contrived situation I've ever seen in a book. Sure, we know that Kvothe is interested in the Chandrian and that he has very passively been trying to find out about them. Very passively. So passively you can barely tell. Then, he hears this rumor about a Chandrian attack and he just drops everything and runs off to investigate it.

There are two things about this:
1. It is clear from the context of the book that the land Kvothe lives in is very rumor infested. Therefore, it is unreasonable to suppose that this is the first rumor of the Chandrian that Kvothe has heard in the past few years, but he takes off specifically to investigate this particular rumor. It would be more believable if Rothfuss had shown us an ongoing interest in Kvothe tracking down these rumors, but he doesn't do that. We're left to believe that Kvothe, at 15, suddenly has an irresistible urge to check this one out.
2. The other option is that this really is the first rumor about the Chandrian that Kvothe has heard since they killed his family. Then, we have to wonder why that is. It's a superstitious land full of superstitious people and rumors about all sorts of mystical things. That there wouldn't be other rumors like this is even harder to believe.

Of course, when he gets there, he finds Denna there in the middle of it. Of course, he does.

And he kills a dragon. Of course, he does.

Which brings us back to blue fire and why there hadn't been any Chandrian rumors due to the blue fire of the dragon.

I could go on...

Basically, this book contained nothing new. It was every fantasy cliche there is out there, including the orphaned boy living on the streets, shaken up and redistributed less skillfully than the sources they came from. Especially, the Kvothe Potter sections. There was nothing charming or interesting about any of it, just Kvothe being better than everyone always.

The end is the only thing that saves the book from being a complete waste of time, but that's just there to entice you on to the next one, and I am tempted, but I'm pretty sure that one will be more of the same, meaning barely more than a complete waste of time. At the moment, I plan not to be lured into going on. Maybe if Rothfuss ever finishes the third one and I hear that it is just extraordinary... Of course, that's what I heard about this one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Weekly (Pat) Report #1

Well... Here we are! Another week in the saga of the Revenge of the Fake Reviews! You're probably all tired of hearing about it by now; I know I'm tired of talking about it. BUT, if you want things to be righted, you can't stop talking about it, because that's the same as saying, "What you did is okay, and I'm going to let you get away with it." Dilloway has already been implying that he wants me to stop talking about the things he's done and his patterns of behavior, and I will... just as soon as he has his sister take down all the fake reviews/ratings she has up for me. Which are also on goodreads, now, because Dilloway can't stop himself from escalating the situation even as he's talking about how I should stop talking about him.

So... Let's review the situation, shall we?

1. I wrote a review of a book not written by Pat Dilloway.
2. Pat Dilloway freaked out and had a hissy fit because the author of the book was a friend of his.
3. As a result of his hissy fit, he attacked my review in each place it was posted.
4. He also, in a attempt to "give me a taste of my own medicine," lowered the rating of a book of mine, "Tiberius," which he had previously reviewed and rated four stars, to one star.
5. Pat tried to extort me to change my review of the other book by offering to change his rating on "Tiberius" back to what he originally gave it. Not one to be extorted, I said no, but that whole exchange made me angry. This is not a "hey, I'll lie for you if you'll lie for me" kind of thing.
6. Then, he wrote a post on the IWM blog about what a horrible person I am and accused me of being someone who just goes around giving out 1-star ratings, basically, because I feel like it and because I like being mean to people.
7. At that point, I wrote a post explaining, again, my stance on honest reviews. This post had nothing in and of itself to do with Pat Dilloway, although he took exception to it just as he did the first time I stated my stance years ago. Also, Briane Pagel wrote a post about honesty in reviews which he posted on the IWM blog in no small part because Pat's view that reviews should be biased toward the author for indie books (although he does not practice his own stated stance and will freely give negative reviews to people he doesn't like or to whom he views as a threat or competition) is not a reflection of the views of IWM.
8. Pat expanded his attack on me to include Briane and 1-starred at least one of Briane's books in response to Briane's post about reviews.
9. I wrote a post about the childish behavior of Pat Dilloway with the idea that the way you deal with bullying behavior is to bring it to light. The bully wins if you keep it hidden, and it allows the bully to keep doing it and do it to other people.
10. Pat began harassing me and calling me names in the comments section on my blog (he had also been doing the same to me on goodreads).
11. I published a review of a book of his which I had previously withheld. I see, now, that withholding the review in the first place was a mistake but, at the time, I had not wanted to get into it with Dilloway, because I already knew how he reacted to bad reviews. The review was not revenge, as he seems to think, but was to make a point, again, about the types of reviews that I do, i.e. reviews with objective reasoning based on the product which have nothing to do with how I may feel about the author.
12. Dilloway, of course, attacked the review. Another reviewer pointed out some of the things that I was talking about in the review, things Dilloway said didn't exist, and Dilloway attacked him, too. The other reviewer posted his own review of Dilloway's book because his comments somehow mysteriously vanished from the comment thread on Amazon, and Dilloway attacked that review, too, though most of Dilloway's comments were removed by Amazon.
13. Dilloway began spamming my comment sections on my posts with hundreds of comments calling me names. Yes, I said hundreds. These comments I just ignored and stored, but Dilloway, then, went out of his way to also call various of my commenters names and, actually, called all of my commenters stupid.
14. Because of Dilloway's "I didn't do that, oh, I did do that but it's okay" attitude and his similarity to Vox Day along with his persistence in spamming my comments, I wrote the Sad Puppy post.
15. Dilloway asked for people to help teach me a lesson (on Facebook (I saw the post but don't remember the exact language he used)), and his sister went over to Amazon and began 1-starring all of my books. Later, his other sister also 1-starred the same books that Dilloway had 1-starred.
16. Dilloway wrote another post about what a horrible person I am and how I am just petty dictator for removing all of his comments which were full of nothing more than calling people names and insulting people. Sorry, it's my blog and, if insulting people is the best you have, I don't need that on my blog.
17. Amazon stepped in and removed all of the Dilloway siblings reviews/ratings on "Tiberius" and The House on the Corner. Dilloway re-posted his reviews, both with 3-star ratings, just to have Amazon remove them again. That happened several times (at least three), but Dilloway was persistent in re-posting the reviews every time Amazon removed them. They currently stand with 3-star ratings. Neither sister replaced their reviews on those books, but the first sister still has six 1-star ratings of my work on Amazon.
18. Dilloway began spreading around, in order to show how horrible I am, that I am currently in a feud with my church. That's a very interesting thing since, currently, I do not attend church nor have I in years. I'm assuming that Dilloway is referring to the series I've been doing about racism, and I am going to be generous and assume that his misunderstanding came from a lack of being able to read closely rather than that he is siding with the batch of racist assholes I was talking about in those posts.
Oh, wait, he could have just been purposefully lying about me so as to discredit me. Hmm... yeah, let's go with that option. Occam's Razor and all of that.
19. His sister expanded her rating attack to goodreads where she has currently given me more than 50 1-star ratings (because each piece of the Shadow Spinner serialization is still listed there).

This is the point at which I'm saying that I am not going to quit talking about Pat Dilloway and what he has done and is doing until he fixes it. Not just his reviews (he also went and downrated everything he'd rated of mine on goodreads), because he's changed those so that he can, I suppose, say, "Hey, look, I don't have any bad reviews of his works," but his sister's, too, since, ultimately, he is responsible for those being there. Also, if I see that he's doing this kind of thing to anyone else, I will do my best to let people know about that, too. Because, you know what? Bullies don't get to win.

And, now, for my favorite one!

20. Just this week, Dilloway has published a post saying how much he hates me and how, also, he's sure that everyone believes he's an asshole but, really, what he's doing is okay because he keeps it isolated to "out-of-the-way message boards and blogs." At least he's not putting it in a book that's for sale on, say, Amazon where thousands of people could see it.

The logic here is amazing to me. It's kind of like saying, "Hey, I know I hit you in the back of the head with this board, but at least I did it in this alley where no one could see instead of out on the street." Or, "I know I stole $100.00 from you, but at least I didn't steal $1000.00." It is not the magnitude of something that makes it wrong. The thing is wrong or it's not. Speeding is still against the law even if there are no cops around to catch you.

He also states in the that post that he has been involved in "many a flame war," which I also find interesting considering his stance that I am the problem. I suppose that this could be considered a flame war except that I have kept all of my talk (except for one stray comment) restricted to my blog and have also restricted my talk to only pointing out actual actions without resorting to calling names and insulting anyone's intelligence. At any rate, I think the person who has an issue with getting involved in flame wars should take a look at his behavior.

So that's the update. Next week's will be restricted to only new developments, but I wanted to get the sequence of events down here at the outset. I think I covered everything, at any rate.

If you would like to find out what you can do to help fight the bullies who attack and/or intimidate authors like this just because they can, please feel free to email me.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Growing Up In the race Divide (part 5e)

This post is not specifically about racism, but it would hardly be fair to not tell how it all ended.

After the church made the decision to merge, I went into damage control mode in order to protect my youth group. I mean, I knew I wasn't going to have a job anymore once all the merger stuff happened, but I wanted to make sure my kids were taken care of.

Wait, let me back up a step:
What they tried to tell me (and kept telling me over the few months that all the legal stuff for the merger took place) is that I would be necessary through the merger and beyond; they would need me to help integrate the two groups of kids. "Don't worry; you're not going to lose your job." But I knew that was bullshit. Not that it mattered. There was no way I was transferring to the other church.

We set up some joint events between the two youth groups... you know, so they could get to know each other. Yeah, it sounds like it would be such a great idea. Except, well, the other group, being the teenagers of upper middle- and lower upper-class parents were completely dismissive of my group. And my group tried. I had a couple of very outgoing kids, and they walked right up to some of the other teens to introduce themselves, and the kids from the other group would just turn and walk away without saying anything. Basically, at each event we had set up, my group got shunned by the other group. And their youth pastor did nothing about it. Each event, within 20-30 minutes, my kids were saying to me, "We don't want to be here. They won't talk to us."

And here's the complication:
I spent a few years working as a substitute teacher during this time (because I wasn't on staff at the church, just an hourly worker), so I knew a lot of the kids in the other youth group. I was a well-liked sub. In fact, I was the favorite sub of at least two schools because, as the administrators said, I was one of the very rare subs who was liked by both the students and the teachers. So I knew the kids in this other group, and they already knew that they liked me. Many of them liked me more than their own youth pastor (who, honestly, wasn't a lot of fun).

At the very first joint event we went to, a social event at their youth center, within 10 minutes of us being there, a girl from the other group, a girl that I knew, walked over to me where I was standing with a couple of my kids and said to me, in front of them, "Why are you hanging out with these losers? Come hang out with us; we're better." After I recovered from my disbelief, I made it clear that my kids were not losers, and I wasn't going to have anyone talking that way.

Yes, the other pastor and I had a discussion, though it was less discussing and more me just telling him like it was. This guy who was a decade older than me. But he didn't argue. It also didn't change anything.

Which mostly brings us up to the week of the merger. There was a last Sunday at the church I grew up in; that was the day they announced the merger was official and that the next Sunday would be at the other church. The other church was supposed to send one of their buses around to pick up my kids for the Sunday morning youth stuff on that first Sunday. That was the only thing I was concerned with.

Now, you have to understand that on the Sunday of the announcement, the last Sunday in our building, they were still telling me, "We need you. We need you." Technically, we didn't become part of the other church until midnight, so Monday. Monday afternoon, I got a call, a call I was expecting, "We just wanted to let you know that your services are no longer required." That's pretty close to the exact wording, "Your services are no longer required."

I called everyone I knew that week, everyone with any power to affect the first Sunday of joint services, to make sure that they picked up my kids. "Yes, yes. It's all fine. We'll pick them up." Sunday morning came. My parents and brother went to church. I was somewhat livid over that fact. My mom, I suppose, was trying to keep her job. At least, at the time she was. They went; I stayed home. Sometime around mid-morning, I got the first call, "No one picked me up."

"No one picked me up."

"No one picked us up."

"What do we do?"

"What do I do?"

It's what I knew was going to happen. I was full of rage and tears, and there was nothing I could do about it. Again, on the Monday, because I had made some calls on Sunday knowing I wouldn't be able to get anyone, I got a call, "We've decided that it's not cost effective to pick up your kids. You'll have to find some other place for them to go."

And I did try. But these kids had just had their home ripped away from them, and for some of them, my group was almost literally their home. The only place they felt safe. Including the kid I had to kick out of service about once a month whom I never expected to keep coming back, the kid who, when picked up by the cops one night, had them bring him to me, not his parents, and who did, always, keep coming back. And their home was just... gone. Because it wasn't "cost effective."

Of the three dozen kids, only three of them allowed me to get them situated in another group. My old youth pastor's group at the church he'd moved to when I was graduating from high school. Just three. The rest... just quit church.

What they learned was that churches couldn't be trusted. Churches were full of hypocrites. Churches only wanted you if you had money and wore the right clothes. The people in churches were worse than the people not in churches so why bother to go. There was no, "They will know you are Christians by your love."

Now, it's easy to say at this point, "Well, that was just a bad church," but I  have worked with and in a substantial number of churches across three states, and they were all essentially the same. Except one. That one was a church composed of homeless people and existed through donations to keep it running. "Keep it running" meant enough money to pay to rent the space they used on Sunday nights and to feed the homeless people who came. Yes, they came to eat, but they also listened while they were there. There was no salary for the pastor or any staff or deacons. Just some people who volunteered to help make sure people were getting fed.

All of the other churches where very much about looking the part if you wanted to attend. The right color skin (white or, maybe, slightly "tanned" (meaning there might be someone of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, but there were no black people)), the right kind of clothes, and, most importantly, the right kind of money. You know the focus is wrong when, during a social event, the pastor turns to you and says, "Hey, by the way, how much are you tithing, right now?" [True story.]